Gay teen suicide rates are higher in conservative areas

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It gets better

A sad, but not all that surprising study, has concluded what you probably already suspect. Suicide rates among gay teenagers are significantly higher in politically conservative areas. Columbia University psychologist Mark Hatzenbuehler surveyed over 32,000 eleventh-graders in Oregon and analyzed other external data such as voter registration, school bullying policies, and the presence of gay-straight alliances and other such LGBT support groups and resources. He also used the percentage of registered Democrats to determine the liberalism of each county. By his estimations, in areas with a lower social index (the conservative ones), LGBT teens were twenty-percent more likely to have attempted suicide than in counties with the highest scores.

Interestingly enough, the findings were also similar (though not as dramatic) for straight students — suicide attempts by hetero-kids were about nine-percent higher in conservative counties. In other words, environments that attempt to combat discrimination and cultivate attitudes of inclusion and tolerance aren't just healthier for gay youth, but for all youth.

While the study only focused on Oregon, it would be fascinating to see how these statistics ranged on a national scale, especially in states like Tennessee where lawmakers are trying to ban the mere mention of homosexuality in schools. The "It Gets Better" campaign has never seemed so pertinent.